Bulldogs must raise game for Giants visit

Sam Smeaton has agreed a deal that will keep him at Batley Bulldogs until the end of 2018.
Sam Smeaton has agreed a deal that will keep him at Batley Bulldogs until the end of 2018.

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear admits his side must raise their game as they prepare to face Huddersfield Giants in their first home game of the Super 8s Qualifiers .

Sunday’s derby against the Giants coincides with the Bulldogs’ annual Pink Weekend when club officials and supporters will be raising money for breast cancer charities.

Batley will wear a one-off pink strip for the game, while there will be attractions to keep spectators entertained, while raising funds.

Batley have lost their opening two qualifying matches, going down 58-18 at Hull KR before last week’s 76-16 defeat at London Broncos and Kear admits his side must improve quickly if they are to bounce back.

Kear said: “I think we are letting ourselves down. Psychologically we are struggling and I think the reason is because there was so much emphasis placed on making the top-four.

“When that was achieved, mission accomplished was put on the door, but unfortunately it is not. What we are doing now is getting embarrassed two weeks on the trot.

“The way Huddersfield played against Featherstone, having looked at that game, they grew in confidence.

“They are a very good team anyway, so if we don’t improve psychologically as well as physically we will get embarrassed again.

“It is a disappointing way to start, having worked so hard to get into the Qualifiers.

“But it is new. We coped with the regular season much better this year than last year. Obviously we’ve not coped with this part of the season, but that’s the challenge that faces us all now – the staff, players and club.”

Batley have a week off after the visit of Huddersfield before facing hosting fellow Championship side Featherstone on September 4.

Sam Smeaton has agreed a deal that will keep him at the Bulldogs until the end of the 2018 season.

Smeaton joined Batley from Halifax ahead of the Super 8s Qualifiers and made his debut at Hull KR two weeks ago. He made 12 appearances for Halifax this season, scoring six tries, and played a further three games on loan at York.

Kear was concerned regarding the size of Batley’s squad ahead of the Qualifiers and the Bulldogs acted swiftly to sign Smeaton ahead of the transfer deadline.

Alex Bretherton, who played his 150th game for Batley at Hull KR, has also agreed to remain at the club next season, with the Bulldogs now having 17 of this season’s squad signed up.